Matsushita selects Nokia software for handsets

Matsushita Communication Industrial Co. Ltd. will license Series 60 smart-phone software from Nokia Corp. for use in multimedia phones based on the Symbian Ltd. OS, the companies announced Wednesday, not quite two months after Nokia and Siemens Information and Communication Mobile Group said they'd struck a deal involving the same software.

The latest Series 60 pact also comes on the heels of word from Microsoft Corp. that it will release its Windows Powered Smartphone 2002 software "any day now." The Microsoft smart-phone software has been somewhat less than smart thus far, however. The software has had problems operating with hardware in GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) phones, which has caused delays and raised questions about whether Microsoft will be able to effectively compete in the handset software market.

Meanwhile, Symbian, based in London, has garnered substantial industry backing. The private independent software licensing company is jointly owned by L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co., Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications PLC, Nokia, Matsushita -- best known for its Panasonic consumer brand -- Psion PLC, Siemens AG and Motorola Inc.

Formed in June of 1998, the company has over the past two years made a steady stream of announcements regarding support of the open standards Symbian OS, which provides a common software platform for the manufacturers that support it. This decreases costs for developers that want to create applications for multiple handset makers and helps interoperability, Symbian backers say.

Series 60 is designed for Symbian OS-based multimedia handsets with color screens, key telephony, personal information management applications, a browser and messaging.

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